By Conor McCue

DENVER, (CBS4) – Both immigration policy and rhetoric will see a major shift under the new administration of President Joe Biden, experts say. On his first day in office, the president signed 15 executive actions, addressing everything from the country’s COVID-19 response to the environment.

Heading into Wednesday, at least five of the executive actions were expected to involve immigration.

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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. President during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I think we’ll see a dramatic shift of what we’ve grown accustomed to over the last four years,” said César García Hernández, professor of law at the University of Denver. “That doesn’t mean that there won’t be tension in the Democratic Party, tension between the Democratic Party and advocates, and between parties.”

Early actions by President Biden included orders to end the travel and immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, halt construction of the border wall, change arrest priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), keep protections for a group of Liberians in the country, and defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

(credit: CBS)

DACA, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year after the Trump administration argued it was unlawful, remains a temporary program. According to García Hernández, the challenge for the Biden administration will be working with Congress to find a permanent solution for “Dreamers,” beneficiaries of the program, or an eventual pathway to citizenship.

“If the administration is able to put that through Congress, then of course we will see a dramatic shift that affects people in every corner of the state of Colorado,” García Hernández said.

He also expects the new administration’s different rhetoric and tone on the issue of immigration to lift some of what he calls the “climate of fear” in immigrant communities.

(credit: CBS)

Maria Lopez, a DSST College View High School grad and current “Dreamer,” is already hopeful about the next four years. On Wednesday, she watched the inauguration festivities from her home in Denver.

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“I was very happy. I was very proud,” Lopez said.

She was 1 year old when her mom brought her to Colorado from Mexico. For two years now she’s been a “Dreamer,” and describes the recent attempts to end or dismantle the program as “scary.”

The 19 year old is now more hopeful her future will remain in Colorado. In an interview with CBS4 she shared her confidence in the new administration’s ability to strengthen the program by reading a November tweet from then-President-elect Biden, saying, “Dreamers are Americans — and it’s time we make it official.”

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“I’m feeling very much hopeful. I’m feeling very excited,” Lopez said. “I know Joe Biden, when he fights for us ‘dreamers,’ we’re going to be able to actually pursue it and not think we can’t live out the American dream like others.”

Conor McCue